You Can Know a Little and Still Be Smart.
There is a famous quote, "You can know a lot and still be stupid", and this may be quite true, but I want to propose the inverse statement of this and that you can "actually know very little, and still be very smart". There is one context that this becomes very relevant and that is the Internet, and becoming an authority (niche expert).
So How Can You Know a Little and Be Smart?
I want to give you some context. I am not saying that you should not be educated and you shouldn't embrace learning about new topics. In fact, I am going to be making the argument to the adverse of that. I think you SHOULD be incredibly educated, but I also think that as you build a business, you should put the emphasis of your education at ONE thing, not ONE HUNDRED.
If you look around within the online world to those that are succeeding and doing so as leaders in their space (also what are viewed as authorities), you are going to notice that people focus on being brilliant at one thing. They serve their industry, often times starting out in a very narrow niche and if and when their business grows, they decide to scale into other facets and diversify their business.
I have written in detail about one example of this topic when GolfBalls.com started out as a website geared towards Golf Balls, and through time as they gained clout, authority and based of customers, they diversified into golf clubs, apparel, drivers, carts, etc. That was the natural progression of their business and it happened because they knew very little in a sense about a broader niche, and focused on knowing a lot about a very narrow ONE thing (golf balls) first.
It is a natural draw to invest our time learning about too many things. This is not a good approach, in particular when you step into the business world where specialists are reaping all the rewards...in particular these days.
Jeopardy Knowledge Doesn't Mean Success.
We can all aspire to be the next Ken Jennings and know a little about a lot of things, but that doesn't equate to expertise at any ONE thing in particular. This is partly why you don't typically see people with crossword level knowledge or people that are book smart, being the most successful people in the world.
They want to learn, the same as you or I, but they also want to learn a lot about a lot of random things. It is great to be able to polish off a crossword in 30 minutes, but the random knowledge approach certainly will not lead to expertise at any one thing.
If you want to be successful within the online business world, you need to be a master of your craft.
How to Know a Lot About Something Particular.
So what direction are you heading, or do you want to head. What is something that you are willing to invest and immerse yourself in to the point where you could feel as though you know something in particular.
But what does that even mean? What does immersion into a niche look like, and how would you even start to design the process of becoming an authority?
It actually isn't as difficult as it may appear, but there are some key strategies that you should implement to really immerse yourself in your niche...and subsequently work towards expertise.
(1) Be the First to Know
One thing I have always recommended is being aware of all news and current trends within your industry. In other words, to keep a pulse on your industry. One of the best ways to do this is through a simple (and free) app that Google provides in their "news" platform.
I have created a short video on how to leverage Google Alerts in your niche and I recommend that you check it out here.
You can set these up easily in your niche so that as new content is published to Google and indexed in their search results, you are notified. I have MANY of these set-up across multiple niches and it helps me keep up to date with those niches.
(2) Watching Your Competitors.
Your competitors can have great ideas, not just for content, but for product reviews, and unique opinions and ways to think about your niche. It is important to always keep a pulse on your niche and what others in your space are doing, so I recommend that as you are doing niche research that you create a list or bookmark websites that you would view as competition, no matter how authoritative they are.
Then you can keep regular tabs on these sites, what they are doing, and use some of their ideas as influence into what you are doing. This doesn't mean copy by the way, influence is much different. You don't want to copy any content from competitors, but it is fine to get ideas in relation to content, information, products and even website design/layout as you are doing your research.
(3) Reddit, Quora, and the Community Platforms.
You want to get into the trenches with your niche? You should jump into some of the more popular discussion platforms. I would recommend that you check out Reddit and Quora at the very least.
Some conversations will of course be negative in nature (and often times flat out flame wars), but that is fine and often times warranted. You can get incredible insight investigating topics and being a regular reader of these threads.
For example, if I wanted to learn about the best diets, and what is popular right now (that is, I was working within the dieting niche), I could easily do a simple search on reddit for "what is the best diet". Here are what my results looked like.
Not only are you going to get perspective from seasoned "experts" in the niche, you are going to see the sorts of questions people are having, the issues they are having, and some of the smaller idiosyncrasies you should be paying attention to if you want to become a niche expert.
Search any topic in these engines and you are going to be getting lots of ideas, lots of information, and advancing your knowledge within your given niche. Plus a side effect is going to be discovering all sorts of new keywords, products, and ways in which you can diversify your website.
(4) Keep in Tune with Magazines.
Magazines are a very good source of niche related content, and they are also an excellent source of ideas for your website. Everything from headlines for articles and the way they are structured, to new and popular products, companies advertising within the magazines, and keyword ideas. They are truly a wealth of quality, and current information.
You can purchase magazines that are relevant to your niche through a local bookstore, or you could subscribe to them through a site like Magazines.com.
Me personally, I have a membership to Scribd, which is a great source of books, industry related literature, documents, and magazines. It is around $9 per month, and includes a wide range of magazines as well.
As you can see, there are plenty of options across many categories. Outside of the value for potential website ideas, reading magazines is a great way to stay up to date with your niche.
Many of us learn best through video training. So why not follow that approach when researching your niche, and attaining new knowledge about your niche. Youtube has billions of hours of content across every niche, much of it pure informational and pure value. You can leverage this to polish your skills in your niche, acquire new ideas, and to advance your knowledge set about your niche/customers.
The best way to do this is to start following credible and quality sources of content within your niche. Do a keyword search within your niche, in this example I am going to searching within the "dieting" niche. When you do your search, you will also want to click on the "Filter" button and search based on "Channel". This will give you a list of channels on Youtube that are related to your search.
Then you can subscribe to those channels that are more active, I recommend that anyone over 1,000 subscribers and over 50 videos, as those Youtube users are typically more active with their video creation and will serve as a more credible source of information.
Here is one such example from the results.
Now that I have subscribed, I will be notified as they create new content on their Youtube Channel. This is a technique that is very easy to implement, but can lead to a wealth of niche knowledge.
Also, you can leverage Youtube to engage with a broader audience, and to get feedback on your opinions, ideas by creating your OWN videos. For those of you that do not know, Youtube is a massive source of free and quality traffic for affiliate marketers. If you can do video and are not on Youtube yet, get on there!
There you have it. Knowing a "little" and still being deemed an expert. The reality is, your expertise will increase if you focus on being great at one thing or a smaller subset of things, then trying to know everything.
Don't be the jack of all trades, master of none...in particular within the online world. It will only inhibit your potential, your brand, and your long term success.
I would love to hear your feedback on this topic. What have you been doing to become an expert in your niche? Do you have any additional techniques or strategies that you use to advance your knowledge in your niche? Do you feel that you have been trying to become everything to everyone which is slowing your progress (and your overall expertise)?
Drop your comments, and of course any questions below!